Category Archives: Roads

A Holy Hinterland

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Drivers on the A33, have you ever wondered what this is?

The M3 and A33 run close to each other for several miles to Winchester. In between these 2 roads are pockets of history hidden away, which could easily get forgotten about.

One such curiousity I pass on the A33, near Popham, and I have happened to find out a bit more what it is…

On first appearance it looks like a wall to a property, shielding the noise of the traffic, or maybe it is to do with the motorway.  Whilst I had been researching another idea for the blog at a nearby spot, using the phone maps, helped me pin it’s location…

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The curious rectangle… © Google maps

There’s quite a lot that can be said about the A33 road layout here – (going back to when the M3 ended and merged into the A33, before 1985), but for now, I’m drawn towards the grass rectangle marked between the 2 roads. Its marked on current O.S. maps.

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I can’t see any relation to the road or other properties. So my instict was to look at older maps of the same spot. (The National Library of Scotland has a brilliant resouce for peeling back the layers of time…)

So, going back in time we can see a symbol marked for a church on the spot.

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O.S map from circa 1885

By the time we get to a post war O.S. map, its marked as a cemetery, but no church is marked by this stage – intresting…

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But then below, on this 1950’s One-Inch map suggests there is a building, but no name…

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I saw enough to make me want to go on foot and explore the site in a bit more detail. The layby by here, sadly seems a spot for fly-tipping. The track is surfaced, but slowly being covered by a creeping moss. I sense its a place of debauchery from time to time! The track is defined so it looks like I can go on. I have to be honest here and say that earlier in the day curiousity had got the better of me, so I had an idea of what I’m going to find, but its still exciting, if a bit creepy!

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The track slowly turning to moss

So I’m glad its still daylight…  There are iron gates beneath forboding trees. It seems something out of a Hammer Horror film…

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© Nigel Smith
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The gates… © Nigel Smith
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Popham Cemetery © Nigel Smith

So here it is.. Popham Cemetery. There are some ‘recent’ war graves from WW2 in here and scattered some other plots, but that’s only half the story. The maps tell there was a church here at some point, and I want to find out what happened to it…

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looking inside Popham Cemetery © Nigel Smith

Looking back again over the maps… on the 1888 -1913 survey, at last I have a name for the church “St. Catherines”. We have the site, but with no evidence of building now. So what become of it?

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St Catherine’s Church

I really want to see an old photo of what it looked like… I have been able to find several sources that tell me about St. Catherine’s, (or St Katherine’s Church, as older documents refer to it). I also got in touch with Church of England Record Centre in Southwark to see what information they held. It seemed they had similar accounts to what I had found, and parish records, but sadly no photographic evidence they knew of. Still, I have an invite to go up and see the originals, which I may well do!

The Church & The Popham connection

I’ve discovered The Popham family is linked to the fortunes of this church. The first mention of the Popham family can be traced back to the 13th Century to a Gilbert de Popham, (c1195 – 1251). It seems from a time after the Norman Conquest, his family came into possession of an estate tied with lands of Hyde Abbey near Winchester. The De Pophams became known as The Pophams, and their name was associated to the manor.

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The Popham coat of arms (centre) and examples in that can be found at Colyton, Devon & Wellington, Somerset

Already aspiring to law making and governace in Hampshire, Henry Popham (c. 1339 – 1417/18) was Sherif of Hampshire. Later branches of the Popham family began to hold other estates in Berkshire, Somerset and Devon. Some of these decendents were to become influential figures in British politics and courts, such as Sir John Popham (c. 1531-1607) the Lord chief Justice & Edward Popham (1610–1651).

One plausable naming of the church could be attributed to a Medieval interest there was in saints and pilgrimage. ‘The cult of St Catherine‘ gained popularity specially in Northern European countries during the 13th & 14 centuries, with a fascination of her life and Martyrdom. In fact, St. Catherine’s Hill, near Winchester was named after her, and was a popular place of pilgrimage – some 15 miles from Popham. There are other parallels from research I’ve carried out that suggest to me, The wider Popham Family held St. Catherine, (or Katherine) in high esteem. John Popham (c. 1395 – c. 1463), Treasurer to Henry VI, rebuilt St. Sepulchre Church, on Newgate Street, London around 1450, and the church had been know as ‘fraternity of St. Catherine‘. A later John Popham (1603-1637), was a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. St Catherine is it’s patron saint, and their chapel is named after her. Popham himself gave a large donation towards the installation of the screen. In fact the family crest was there, but the Chapel was remodelled again in the 1857. However, some of the glass work survives and can be seen.

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(You can read more of The Pophams history in these articles here and  here.)
George Popham (1550–1608) left Somerset to establish a Colony that would bear his name in Maine, North America. (For more Interest in the Popham colony see here.)

An Older Church…

The M3 divides them now, but the Church and the Manor were once more accessable to each other, and from the documents I’ve seen say there was an older church. The original church is referenced in The National Gazetter (1868) as ‘ajoining the Earl of Popham’s Mansion’. The British History Online site says the old church ‘stood at the back of the manor farm’, saying very little survived and talks of the new church… 

Old maps seem to back this up. (Taylors – 1751, below), whilst not the most accurate representation, implies that a church was closer to the manor and the example clearly sets it away from the main road… Milnes map 40 years later, also shows a church ajoining a house, not by the road.

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Taylors map 1751
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Milnes map 1791

Having walked around Popham, The court has its wall around it (which looks easily several hundred years old), and does it’s job stopping any viewing so I’m none the wiser in suggesting the old church’s location…

I’ve really been hoping to find some evidence of the old church – something physical to make a connection, so you can imagine my delight in finding the font from the original church now resides in St. Micheal’s North Waltham! As its stands, this is the only surving artifact known of… (some tiles were mentioned as being used in the ‘new church’ but alas no more).

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The15th Century font from St. Catherines © Richard Tanner

Its that Man again… A new church

The O.S. maps I started with, (from late 19th Century onwards), show the church sited by the Winchester Road. It had a chancel and nave and a belfry for one bell.And its here a name pops up I’ve heard of before – by the 19th Century, Popham Court was in possession the of Lord Ashburton. It seems that by 1875 the old church in some state of disrepair, so Baring  financed the building of a new church. BHO describes it : “The church of St. Catharine is a building of flint with stone dressings, erected in 1879, in a modern Gothic style, at a cost of £2,500, defrayed by Lord Ashburton”. Like before, it may have also been a convienent reason to move the site away from his residence. I now know there are several other Churches rebuilt as projects by Lord Baring in villages ajoining his lands such as nearby Woodmancott. He certainly seemed happy to finance these projects.

A vicarage & final years

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Site of the old vicarage in relation to church
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Possibly the old gates?

The ‘new’ church was to survive less than 100 years. The main problem always for a church here was a small population it relied on. With its restraints it shared a vicarage with Woodmancott. Not easy to picture, again, the Motorway has cut through older lanes though I tried to join the pieces…

Whilst in the local library, still hoping to find a photo, I did find a couple of articles from the Basingstoke Gazette, written by local Journalist and historian Arthur Attwood. He speaks of passing the church on journeys he made, and he felt it ‘looked comparatively new.’ He also thinks the reason the church closed, was due to structural damage from nearby bombs dropped in World War 2, (maybe jettisoned after a raid?), but by around 1950, the church had been pulled down.

In 65 years or so, traces of a church have all but gone… The Cemetery is maintained, but closed and nature is taking over the roads. Its amazing how easily we loose our links to history. What was once connected to Popham Court may well have been more of architectural interest, whilst its replacement not in exisitance long enough to be historical value. But I’m still on that quest for that photo… and will add it here if I find one!

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A30 Tales – Tower Hill

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The old and new ways of travel – Milestone on The A30, and The M3 beyond © Nigel Smith

This article could have been called ‘A Tale of 2 Junctions, and a half’ as it’s really a companion piece to my earlier blog on the M3.

When the first stage of the M3 Motorway was built, Junctions 7 and 8 arrived, changing the function and access to the existing routes The A30 and the A33. I looked at Dummer, North Waltham and Popham, villages effected along the A30.

Dummer, in Hampshire, U.K. has several roads serving it, most going under or over the motorway now. There is one road that now comes to an abrupt halt at the M3 motorway.
When the motorway arrived a new road was built, close The Sun Inn, which went underneath the motorway.

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Up to date A30 © Ordnance Survey

What the new map doesn’t show so clearly is the lane carrying on across the A30. It took a couple of passing glances to realise this was an original route to Dummer, which the old maps confirmed.

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Pre motorway, the old lane to Dummer in the 1960’s © Ordnance Survey

So I undertook this photo essay to try to follow the route where I could. Starting from the crossroads at The A30, the lane comes from North Waltham and was called ‘Maidenthorne Lane’.

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Junction for North Waltham © Nigel Smith
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Not to be confused with the lesser known landmark in London… © Nigel Smith

At the juction is the Tower Hill  Guest house, (which looks quite spacious and set back). Looking at the maps, the name relates to Tower Hill Farm over in Dummer.

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© Nigel Smith

There are a couple more properties on the left hand side, and though the original course comes to end, a new track winds round to the side.

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© Nigel Smith

After this point I couldn’t see any more properties marked on old maps, until Dummer. This may have been a deciding factor in it being decided to close it off, and a new road built to navigate the motorway. The M3 was opened in 1971.

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A quick glance back  down the lane to the A30…© Nigel Smith

The missing route to Dummer

We need to go a visit the other end of the lane to see where it came out into Dummer…

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© Google Maps showing the new road to Dummer
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The bit in pink shows the surviving part of the lane

On Google Maps, through a field now farmed, there looks like maybe faint markings  where the original lane travelled. It’s been less than 50 years since a road was here!

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© Nigel Smith

Above You can see the lane snaking from North Waltham in the distance. The junction by the guest house is in the dip, and the motorway is obscured from view. I think where I’m standing would have been on it’s course.

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The point where the lane joined? © Nigel Smith

As I’m at Dummer, it’ll be rude no to visit. On the left there is a newish sign for ‘Tower Hill’. I guess these cottages use this in their address (and not ‘Up Lane’ which the new road is called). This in my mind helps joins up the two ends of the lane nicely, but I can’t confirm it yet.

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Tower Hill is still on the sign post…

If anyone from Dummer or has connections has any information, I’d love to hear more. What did the missing lane look like? If anyone has evidence of the lost part from memory or even a photo where the lane is now lost, that would be great to see!

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Tower Hill Farmhouse in Dummer on the right © Nigel Smith

I also would like to know more why the Farm was called ‘Tower Hill’ if anyone can shed some light the local history?

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The back of Tower Hill Farm, a listed barn © Nigel Smith

A Tale of Two Junctions

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The opening of the M3 Motorway © The Gazette

A photo essay showing the changes when Junctions 7 & 8 of the M3 arrived…

So this one maybe a bit ‘niche’, but the story must be commonplace across the country. Motorways bulldozed their way through a landscape, and like the railways before them, changed the status quo of maybe hundreds of years. These two junctions are my nearest in terms of location, and for almost 15 years they marked the outpost of the M3.

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M3 Junctions 7 & 8 today © Ordnance Survey
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The way it was in the 1960’s, before the arrival of the M3 © Ordnance Survey

Part 1 Junction 7 – Dummer

As motoring increased as a means of transport, the traffic jams through Basingstoke on the A30 and A33 were notorious. Residents were curious and probably relieved when the ‘London to Basingstoke’ Motorway scheme was announced in the 60’s. The first Junctions to become ‘3 – 8’ opened in May and June 1971. At 7, whilst avoiding the village centre of Dummer, several access lanes from the A30 were effected by the construction.

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Timeline of A30 near Dummer and arrival of Junction 7 © Ordnance Survey

A bit of background…

The Oakley to Dummer road passed through where Junction 7 was planned. It was also in effect the death knell for Kempshott House. (Read more on Kempshott House here.) The road from Oakley is called ‘Trenchards Lane’. It’s a narrow, windy lane which I use daily, (I shouldn’t really…) After the last sharp bend near Southwood Farm, the road comes to a junction on the A30.

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Trenchards Lane meeting the A30 © Nigel Smith

There were, and still are very few properties along this road – Oakdown Farm being the exception I could see.

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Over the  junction the lane carried straight on… © Nigel Smith
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Oakdown Farm is on the right, just before the lane is blocked © Nigel Smith

This is as far as the old road goes now. We’ll trace the original route as it carried on in a moment, but turning back, if a traveller was comming from Dummer, this would have been the view back towards Trenchards Lane.

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looking back © Nigel Smith

The ‘lost’ Section

We now have to walk along the A30 a little and turn right onto the spur road toward the junction 7 to look for signs of the old lane…

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© Nigel Smith

The line of the trees from Oakdown Farm is the course of the lane.

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© Nigel Smith

When walking on the spur, which has a gradual rise, looking to the right, the last part of the lane is just about definable with the trees. I’m convinced this was its route.

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© Nigel Smith

But eventually, the lane runs into the edge where the Spur road was being built and no traces can be seen.

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last traces of the lane into the embankment © Nigel Smith

Looking ahead, the spur and roundabout at Junction 7 have wiped away all traces, but looking at the old maps, the lane carried on through the pine trees, pretty much in the middle. (The M3 is beneath out of view).

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Junction 7 © Nigel Smith

Out on the other side…

Walking around the junction is a bit hair rasing when crossing the fast slip lanes – but once on the other side, the road is as it was. Very quickly the feel of a country lane returns, as you walk away from the motorway noise towards Dummer.

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The road to Dummer © Nigel Smith

Just on the left is a turning into Kempshott Park which would have been the entrance to the esate from the south. The name lives on for now, but with the development planned, the old golf course which has preserved the parkland will soon be change.

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Kempshott Park, revisited..? © Nigel Smith

If you would like to read more about the M3 construction and data see the useful CBRD website  here

Part 2 – Junction 8 – Popham

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l-r Popham Fork in the 1960’s, and J8, and Interchange from the 70’s, to now © Ordnance Survey

In some ways junction 8 has more of a ‘story’ to tell, partly because of its spiraling construction. When The M3 arrived, The Popham Interchange was joining 2 already historic routes, The A303 would arrive too, shifting their importance further.

Motorway etiquette was still quite a new thing for most in the early 70’s, and meant that how you a joined a motorway mattered and had to be controlled affair.

Historic Locations – Where the A30 and A33 divided…

For centuries, ‘Popham Fork’ as I’ve seen it refered to, was where 2 main roads met. The West road to Salisbury, Yeovil, Exeter and onto Cornwall, and a South road, to Winchester & Southampton, and The New Forest. When these became numbered they were the A30 and A33 respectively.

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Popham Fork looking south, The A30 turns right to Salisbury and the West. © Nigel Smith
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looking North, Right becomes the A33 to Winchester © Nigel Smith

Around these parts, our connections to Jane Austen are rightly commented on.  The Wheatsheaf pub on the A30 in Dummer, would have been known to Jane and her family, as it was the coaching stop closest to the family home in Steventon, 2 miles away.

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The Wheatsheaf Inn alongside the A30 near North Waltham © Nigel Smith

Historic Locations – A33 Fork, North & Southbound

Originally when The M3 motorway opened in 1971 it started & finished at Popham, barely a quarter of a mile away. When the M3 was to be extended south in 1985, the slip roads were to alter again, but in the original plan, The A33 was split into 2 lanes, which I’ve tried to explain beneath…

Northbound A33 traffic carried on the old route. But the southbound traffic would filter off to the left, go under the motorway before rejoining the A33, as the motorway ended. (see below).

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Northbound the A33 follows the original course… © Nigel Smith
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… But southbound it filtered off. © Nigel Smith

Today a T- exists into Popham Court lane. It’s great we still have this little bit of this motorway history preserved, so we can visualise it quite well as the old slip lane is still in use, but not for its original purpose!

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… under the M3…  © Nigel Smith

Below shows were the slip road used to join the A33. When The motorway was extended in 1985, the southbound slip could no longer rejoin at the A33.

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Path of the original sliproad rejoining the A33 pre 1985 © Nigel Smith
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No longer able to join… © Ordnance Survey

Instead, the road was extended alongside the motorway, to join into with Popham Court Lane.

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A ‘new’ stretch to Popham Court © Nigel Smith

 Historic Locations  – A30 Fork, North and Soundbound.

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Thomas Milne’s Map 1791

So to the other leg of the Junction, off the A30 route. In effect, the A30 which is signposted from Basingstoke with some reverence is about to ‘give way’ to the mighty A303 – the replacement Tunk road to the West, and for several miles after the A30 is lost. But originally when the Motorway was opened it was for A30.

I had to check out where I could access safely on foot. I did find there was a footpath that would take me right through the middle of the lanes! But first off the A30, I passed these cottages which I found to be one of the most striking views of the exercise. I wonder how the original occupants felt when they knew the motorway was coming and then when the bridge was opened?

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© Nigel Smith

Through the tunnel the footpath comes out into a green field, but between 4 lanes of the motorway lanes merging… If you look at the map, The M3 starts off before dividing quickly. Surprisingly, Its not as noisy at this spot as I thought it might be.

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Meadow Sweet? The M3 feeder lane heading towards London and junction 7 © Nigel Smith
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From this field, looking South, the A303 lies ahead where the lanes merge and M3 ends… © Nigel Smith

 

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Beneath the M3 © Nigel Smith

The footpath comes up to the A33 (top) and M3 feeder to A303 (below)

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© Nigel Smith

 

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© Ordnance Survey

At the old A30 route near the Crematorium, the road divides in the same way as we saw on the A33. The left fork, southbound will join the A303 after the M3 ceases.

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The A30 splits… © Nigel Smith

I take a quick look on foot along the southbound section – Here the M3 from London runs overhead, feeding onto the A303…

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Under the M3 © Nigel Smith

This image below from the A30, looking North, shows this stretch of road pretty much the same as it has been for centuries, with North Waltham to the left.

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A30 North © Nigel Smith

Locations – The M3 Intruder?

Not so easy to get imagery unless from a moving vehicle, and I have wanted my focus to be on the original roads perspective or the arrival of the Motorway, but we can’t ignore the Elephant in the room! The M3 sends its tentacles in all directions dividing up the surrounding land. But when you isolate it, something rather different appears…

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The M3 snakes © Ordnance Survey

I think it’s design looks quite elegant. The slip roads, which are needed add the complexity.

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M3 Spur north joining the M3 © Nigel Smith
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The same Spur south, towards the A303 © Nigel Smith

So these roads are here now and almost 50 years on and we can’t turn back the clock. On maps it doesn’t look like anything could live within the web of roads – houses or wildlife, but it does. In the midst of these roads, I also found several pockets of quiet I wasn’t expecting.  The villages of North Waltham and Dummer were preserved, but for those on the route I’m sure the arrival of the M3 did in some cases seriously effected their ways of life. Any one moving to the area since wouldn’t have the same shock to contend with and would be choosing to live there.

The House Baring All

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Recently, I’ve been pre-occupied with starting the new job, that I’ve not had the opportunity to think about new subjects for the blog. My new commute takes me by a place I had heard of before, that had witnessed a dramatic change to its appearance. I just had to make some time to do this, with Christmas approaching fast.

Stratton Park, sits pretty much mid-way between Basingstoke & Winchester, off the A33. The M3 now cuts along its western edge, but there some have also been some dramatic changes to the house. Despite seeing photos, (and its impossible not to have an opinion on it when you see them),  it was still an eye-opener to witness in it’s ‘current’ form…

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As the above map shows, The Silchester – Winchester roman road runs on the Western edge and sadly much of this stretch is under under the M3 Motorway. The village of East Stratton at its southern boundary, like many villages close to an estate, has found its fortunes effected by the landowner’s decision on more than one occasion.

The Walk

I finally arranged a time to go and explore. Saturday December 9th started off quite cold and by lunchtime the bright sun of the morning had turned watery. Still wrapped up well, the frost had mostly cleared except for a few pockets. Parking at the village hall and turning right to the small village of East Stratton, I passed the church on my left.
I was surprised by the quiteness considering we were so close to the Motorway, but the stretch nearby is just 2 lanes and maybe a factor, The village is shielded by woodland.

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East Stratton’s ‘new’ Church© Nigel Smith

The first junction I came to, by the war memorial I turned left.  The road was unamed, but it was a right of way. I thought I knew the purpose of my walk, but here I had my first surprise with the varied types of cottages of different era’s around me. Feeling seasonal with decorations displayed on doors, but it was a real architectural surprise. The cold dampness of the day added to their rustic charm. As thatch cottages, maybe it is only now we desire them for the quaintness, but in the past they may have not been seen as so desirable to the nearby gentry.

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© Nigel Smith
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© Nigel Smith

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This is emphasised by the last house on left, which was quite large – and not thatched.
I assume connected to the estate in some way, and quite separate in style having a ‘grander’ presence than other properties. The road became more unmade and It was here I got my first glimpse of my destination – the ‘new’ Stratton Park.

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First glimpse of the house…© Nigel Smith

But before we look at the house, The second surprise of the walk. Marked as a cross on the O.S. Landranger Map, the more detailed maps tells us this was actually the site of East Stratton’s first Church.

What I didn’t appreciate at the time of the walk, but from looking at some old maps since, was to find the village was bigger in the past. Though probably not as acurate as newer maps, we can see dwellings clearly marked on lanes (I have indicated in yellow). It seems also like the ‘centre’ of the village with a broad clearing, (almost acting as a village square?), and more importantly the site of the old church makes some sense. On later maps, a school was still shown to be in use, and now as one of the houses that has managed to survive. I would think this helps link the relationship between the Villages of  ‘East’ and ‘West’ Stratton in a way which is not so obvious now. They were always seperated by the main Winchester to London Road, but today they seem distinctly apart as access has been changed.

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East Stratton on the 1810 O.S. map shows more lanes and dwellings in the village…
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Where the lanes would have been on todays landscape

We are fortuntate to have reference to the old Church in J.P. Neale’s engraving of the house. From this angle, it does look ‘close’ to the property, but that sounds like I’m justifying its removal! I don’t know what sort of man Francis Baring, the Earl of Northbrook was, but he didn’t want the church, or villagers too close to his estate…

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Stratton Park 1818 by J.P. Neale
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Site of the original All Saints Church © Nigel Smith

The decision to remove The medieval church of ‘All Saints’ from the Stratton Park, (like at nearby Laverstoke), demonstrated an ‘absolute power’ landowners could wield in pretty much being able to do what they wanted on their land, and few could stop them.  What ever would the villagers of East Stratton felt, having their place of worship for hundreds of years moved as well as their dwellings? The site of the old church was duly marked with this cross – seen as ‘sacred’ land. However the landlord, The 4th Baron Ashburton,  went about it, The village was provided a new church, which was dedicated in 1888, and was the one I passed earlier as I started he walk. To the casual eye, this church looks like it has been there longer than 130 years…

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Storm damaged plaque from 1989, at the foot of the cross

My main reason for this walk has be to see the house. Surprise number 3. As I said, It’s impossible not to have a reaction to Stratton Park and yet I’m not as shocked by it as I thought I might be… True, the 60’s structure hasn’t aged well, if we are talking purely about the materials. It looks quite tired. At a distance it reminds me of some examples of post war architecture with the idea to juxtapose old with new architcture. (I’m thinking of examples I have seen at St. Lukes quad in Exeter, or The Guildhall in the City of London).

In The 60’s, The 7th (and current) Lord Baring set about pulling down the house and replacing it with modernist build by Stephen Gardiner and Christopher Knight between 1963 – 65. The only feature of the main house to survive was the Portico.

John Baring had a reputation of being ruthless dispensing with the old, such as remodelling the Family’s banking Headquarters in London, (and later at their ‘other’ Hampshire estate, The Grange, some 5 miles from Stratton park), where Baring also wanted to be ‘experimental’ in doing away with much of the original house, but was discouraged by the Government.

As we have seen ‘Basher Baring’ is a term which manages to hold some historic context to this site, as well as being a catchy dig by those horrifed by his approach. Yet he had his supporters at the time. ‘Country Life’ Magazine run an article in 1967, praising the bold statement.  Some commenators such as Pesvner were intrigued, if not fully committal. Even in more recent times, the house has been critiqued in the national press , and I must say seeing the images of its interior looking out, creates quite a different response – maybe closer the architect’s original ambition.

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© Nigel Smith

At the time, I think I probably would have seen the architecutral merits in helping re-inventing the house. You could argue the house had always been in a state of modification. Yet now, 50 years on the house feels sad in it’s current form, losing some of its lustre. ‘New’ can be seen as cutting edge, but not always right in hindsight. Our attitides to country houses and their upkeep has changed in the last 50 years. We are probably more conservative toward conserving buildings than we were in the 1960’s.

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Parkland © Nigel Smith

Carrying on across the parkland, the footpath through the grounds diverts to the left. The ‘new build’ becomes obscured by the trees and to see around behind the portico shows how seperate this feature really is, standing proud. The brick gates to the house, I assume are original, and you can get quite a good glimpse of them. The path runs along the edge (and the motorway). This would have also been the course of the Roman Road.

 

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All that is left… The Portico © Nigel Smith
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The gates © Nigel Smith

The footpath contends with the noise of the motorway as you walk alongside it. Walking around the edge of the grounds, the house feels privately tucked away behind trees again. The footpath joins a drive and a bridge crosses over the Motorway before you meet the A33 road. Its marked as right of way, but you would feel ‘discouraged’ from starting from this end with the signage from the road stating its a private road.

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Looking back towards East Stratton © Nigel Smith

So I come back through the park, feeling I have taken enough in, and want to glance at Stratton park once more. There is a right away which would make the walk more circular, back to the Village hall, but I have enjoyed the terrain, and I will save that part for another time!

The History bit…

There is a a lot of reference to Stratton park online an in books on Hampshire.

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Stratton Park 1818 by J.P. Neale

The park and ownership, can be traced back to a monastic grange in the possession of Hyde Abbey, in Winchester c.900 A.D. For more information on Hyde Abbey read here.

With the disolution of the monastries, The land was seized in 1544 A.D. and the Manor of East Stratton came into the possession of an Edmund Clerke. It was soon to be purchased by the Earl of Southampton, Sir Thomas Wriothsley. There looks to be some conflict from sources I have seen, over exact dates  but the development from a manor into a country house and estate saw many alterations. Over time, from the Earls of Southampton, the house passed to The Duke of Bedford’s through marriage, and In the late 18th Century, the house and gardens were extended by Lord Russel – Fifth Duke of Bedford, (1765 -1802). In a later incarnation, much of the house, seen in the prints and early photography was designed by George Dance. The gardens were developed by Gertrude Jekyll).

For more on the history of the house, see here

The Baring Family are known for their London Banking history.  In 1798, the bank’s joint founder, Francis Baring purchased Stratton House. Hampshire has historically benefited by being close to London, but an easy retreat to get to and entertain. The house stayed in the family intil 1929 when on the death of the Lord Northbrook, when it was sold on to a Miss James, who converted it into a girls school.  What may be less known is that the house was re-purchased by the Baring Family after WW2.

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Stratton Park by R. Ackermann, 1828
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A Photo of the Stratton Park from the 1930’s © Lost Heritage

 Then and Now…

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The estate is well hidden from the motorway, but if you are driving by you can get a hint. From the M3,  southbound a couple of miles after junction 7 & before the Winchester Services, there is a little glimpse of an lodge that was part of the estate. On the western edge of the park there are 3 lodge houses that were at one time connected to the estate.The old O.S.maps refer to it as ‘London Lodge’.

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‘London Lodge’ from the M3 © Nigel Smith
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London Lodge, now a listed buiding © Nigel Smith

The Lodge along the A33 on the middle edge of the park is called, er Middle Lodge. Its not easy to stop along here as the dual carraigeway starts again, but its style is worth appreciating.

 

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Middle Lodge © Nigel Smith

The Southernmost Lodge is ‘Winchester Lodge’, in the direction of… I’m sure there is more to be said on these another day, but not in this blog…

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Winchester Lodge – The South end of the Estate © Nigel Smith

 

Thirty Something…

The original A30 By-pass in Basingstoke has since been by-passed by a newer A30, but much of it is still in use. This photographic essay travels along its post-war route.

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Been and gone… The Bypass route looking north towards Black Dam
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The Route of the 1932/3 Basingstoke By-pass. Follow the dots below…

It was around 1932 That the new road was opened by passing the town centre. I find this in interesting in itself as the demand for cars would not have been as great as it was to come. (Who could own a car in 1933?) However, congestion in the town was such a problem that councilors acted quickly. The ancient Harrow way/ Pack Lane was utilized as the solution. The first part built off Black Dam roundabout is still in use as the current A30 but now a dual carraigeway. Its not a perfect fit, but this montage shows a ‘then and now’ where the Bypass started.

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Above The bypass in the 60’s and today, ‘almost’ the same spot…

When the newer A30 was built, it veered away to the right. To continue and find the original by-pass route, I have to start in the bushes…

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1). I wouldn’t recommend venturing in here for long!
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2). The line of the road begins to be visable…
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3). After the gate, this part is now called Whistler Way.
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4). From Whistler Way, now a staggered juction, it carried into Grove Road, the original course.
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4). Grove Road.

Grove Road gets its name from ‘The Grove’, as marked on O.S six inch maps around 1880s, but on later editions seems to be known as ‘Skippets House’

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5) Venture Roundabout, crossing the A339, named after the resturant that stood here serving the motorists needs…
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6). After The Venture roundabout…
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7). Skippets Lane East, where The Grove was.

Cliddesden Road is another old road I could write more on. The M3 Motorway effectively severed its purpose, and later was closed off at the new A30 end. The houses along the road are quite grand, a testemant to its importance.

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8). Cliddesden Road Roundabout, it becomes the ‘Harrow Way’

After this roundabout, the Road is named ‘The Harrow Way’ Also known as ‘Harroway’ is one of the oldest Wessex routes dating from the Neolithic Period part of ‘The Old Way’
If you liked to know more about this ancient route read here

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9).  Jays Close joins the roundabout with The Golden Lion Pub on the corner
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10). Towards Viables
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11). Approaching Viables Craft Centre.

Viables was an old farm and most of the buildings are still there. Its now divided into units for craft makers, small businesses and cafes. There is a also a miniture railway society based there with a track, which is regulary open to the public at weekends.

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An example of a Staddle Stone barn on Viables

12). We approach Viables Roundabout. Talking of railways, The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway used to cut across the road, towards the end of its 12 mile journey, and it still would have been outside the town when the by-pass arrived. In the modern roundabout and subways they have preserved a section… If you want to know more about the history of The Basingstoke and Alton Railway click here.

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Small is beautiful… Section of The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway
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12). The Viables roundabout, The railway would have been to the left.
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13). A part of the Harrow Way which has had settlement way before Basingstoke’s growth.

Brighton Hill Roundabout

 

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14). Cumberland Avenue on left.
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15). Brighton Hill Roundabout

Brighton Hill is one of the busiest roundabouts in Basingstoke as the town developed in the 70’s & 80’s.  The old road met at a junction opposite the White House, a farm, (Now Pizza Express). The roundabout still carried the A30 from the right.
I have also found out there was an Italian Prisoner of War camp on the site where the Halford Store is.

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Fab 4 a reason…

16). From Brighton Hill in Winchester Road, (on the what is now the old A30), next to the Shell Garage and where Home Bargains is now, was a restuarant called the ‘Pied Piper’.
The motorist was catered for with several pubs around this junction. And it was here The Beatles stopped for some refreshment on their way to Southampton in 1967, It may not be a cultural highlight for them, but its the only known Photo’s of the Fab Four in Basingstoke! You can read more and see the photos on this fascinating musical footnote in RazRazzle’s blog here. (And more besides… a really good read and local history).

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17) Almost the end…

I’m not sure when the Road was diverted, but on my O.S. 1973 Landranger map this stretch is still classed as The A30. The new road construction looks around the 80’s to me.

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Pack Lane is to the right, through Down Grange & Kempshott

Incidently Pack Lane carries to Oakley and picks up the Original Great West Road. (You can read more about the history of The Great West Road around Basingstoke on my blog here).

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18). End of the (Winchester) Road…

From Brighton Hill Roundabout, the A30 route was diverted and joined back on to the existing Winchester Road. This feels a bit like how we started – the old road is overgrown and closed off- You also wouldn’t want to loiter too long after dark around there!

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A bit of pavement from the old road…
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19). Joining the A30 at Winchester Road

So there it is. In time the By-pass was surpassed by a new A30. I feel a bit sorry for it especially how it literally finishes a bit undistinguished. But The Harrow Way / Pack Lane which were central in its development, are of course are much older routes and we still use them today to get around Basingstoke.

 

Flirting with a Thirty…

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The Old ‘A30’ near Oakley Hampshire, now the B3400

My connection (and proximity) to the A30 road has been there most of my life. The road begins near Hounslow in South West London, where I was born, and as the historic main coaching route all the way to Land’s End, it’s served me and family for numerous holiday trips.
My in-laws in Devon live off an old stretch now bypassed, and now I find myself in a village in Hampshire, along its traditonal route.

Despite these roads being used for centuries, what I’ve discovered is that nothing really stays the same for long.  And this includes the stretch around Basingstoke. The ‘A30’ has been diverted more than once from its original course, and for good reason – the increase in traffic. Indeed these days the M3 and A303 are the more important routes for the motorist.

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The different routes of the A30 through Basingstoke

I was also surprised to find out the road numbering in The U.K. is a relatively recent affair. The Government began to look at solutions for numbering the road network around 1912, but the First World War severley disrupted the project, and it wasn’t till the ‘1936 Trunk Roads Act’ was passed there was a joined up system where the country roads were numbered.
By this stage this historic stretch of A30 as it would have been, was about to begin the process of being diverted away!

The Roads links to history

The older term ‘The Great West Road’ could be seen as a bit misleading as Bristol is in the West and I imagine the A4 could claim that title too. But as a major coaching route to the South West that is what the A30 was know as from London.

Even with better roads, conditions would vary how much time a journey would take.
So from 20 – 40 miles with a coach could be a realistic days travel.  The need for inns (and stables), grew around these clusters into some of the communities we have today such as Overton, and Hartley Witney, but many old inns are evident in lone spots, (to me locally), such as Water End, Hartford Bridge and Deane, so it was well serviced route for the traveller. I lived in Mapledurwell for a couple of years just off the A30, and joining the road at Water End on a misty Autumn morning could feel as remote a place as probably it ever was!

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A preserved milestone near Overton © Nigel Smith

The Deane Gate Inn in Deane, is still standing but sadly been closed for several years. Jane Austen and her family would have known it well as the village she grew up in Steventon is signposted from the inn and was a dropping off point for Coaches. It even gets a mention it in a letter to her sister. Read more here.
Lets hope the inn is purchased again and carries on a tradition of serving the traveller .

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The Deane Gate Inn.  Jane Austen lived in Steveton © Nigel Smith

Paper Chain

Laverstoke Mill owned by Henry Portal, produced the paper for the Bank of England’s Bank notes. Their current plant at Quidhampton is situated next to the railway, but originally based in Laverstoke, between Overton and Whitchurch, paper would have been transported by road before the railway arrived in 1854. (Read more about the history of the mill in my blog here…)
Laverstoke and neigbouring Freefolk are great villages to visit and easy to walk around. As well as the old mill buildings, (now Bombay Saphire), there are attractive mill workers cottages, Flint facaded cottages and in Freefolk, a conserved church of historic interest (St Nicholas), and one of the best examples of thatching in Hampshire you’ll see… All nestled by the River Test. I’ll no doubt be writing a blog about these gems at a future date…

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Manor Cottages, Freefolk  © Len Williams

The Trafalgar Way

Perhaps its single most important historical event connected with the road occured when ‘dispatches‘ from Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar used the route in 1805 for speed to get the messages between The Admiralty in London, and scene of Battle. Royal Navy Schooners could dock at Falmouth and then with 22 changes of horses, along the 271 mile trip, and an approx 37 hour journey time. Soon after the good news of victory in battle was shared, it was followed swiftly by the tragic news of Nelson’s passing. To mark the Bi-centenury in 2005, events were held and plaques were unveiled at the staging towns. In our case, at nearby Overton. This route has become know as the ‘Trafalgar Way’.

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Car, Humbug!

As with so many aspects of life, The arrival of the motor car quickly undid centuries of travelling convention.  Before, coaches would be catered for with regular stopping posts, (inns and hotels),  as it was generally easy to estimate a days travel. The car soon slashed journey times and as their popularity grew the roads faced new demands. For a while it may have been a novelty, but the old roads weren’t always fit to accommodate the new mode of transport.

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A quieter time in Basingstoke!

By the time my parents were driving, they were by-passing the town centres but the photos of traffic jams from the period still show the mayhem!

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A typical early 60’s traffic jam, on the same stretch of road.  ©Basingstoke Gazzette

Changes west of Basingstoke

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The traditional route of the A30 marked in red between Basingstoke and West to Andover. Note the amount of private houses and estates (coloured blue)  in close proximity to the road.

In 1932 the A30 was diverted out from Basingstoke with a by-pass, and to the west of the town in 1933, the old route become the B3400, which it is to this day… The traveller would no longer need to navigate an increasingly windy route to Andover, countless of how pretty the view was. (Read more about the first A30 bypass on my blog here).

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The new ‘A30’ route skirting Basingstoke moves south…

The A303 arrives…

The A303 is a funny road. Today it offers the motorist a schizophrenic journey, taking over the role as the Primary route to The South West.  Initially fast and helpful, it then just peters out in Devon, and gives way back to the A30 at Honiton. The traffic around Stonehenge is a problem that blights most journeys. However a couple of years back, the BBC made an affectionate documentary about it and worth seeing. I suppose the dream of a dual carraigeway the whole length through some wonderful countryside was never an option. The A303 starts as a shoot off the M3 junction 8. As the map beneath shows, it was built on older exsisting roads. Part of the ‘new’ A30 was used, but in effect with road numbering system caused a gap to appear between North Waltham and Sutton Scotney, (near the A34).

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The beginings of the A303
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The A30 ‘gap’

This nicely brings my journey along the lost stretches of the A30 full circle. The keen eye will see above, it is still possible to drive this old A30 route if you know where to exit near popham, and have quite a nostalgic (and very traffic free) journey!
The first two parts of the A30’s story are still very much intact and can be driven on and enjoyed. Maybe I’m wrong to think of the original road west of Basingstoke to Andover as the original A30, as its tenure with this title was so short lived. But its importance as The Great West Road has a much richer story.